\Emily Batty earns mountain bike Olympic berth

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MONT-SAINTE-ANNE, QC — Emily Batty was just 15 when her father, Rick, fielded a question about her Olympic potential, albeit in conjunction with a story about the entire family.

At that time, Batty’s older brothers Eric and Mark and younger sister Charlotte were also heavily into mountain biking, and the potential was there for any of them to reach the peak level of competition.

“Our goal is to have the three of them — Charlotte’s still a little young — on the national team all in one year,” dad said in an interview nine years ago. “That would be a huge accomplishment. From there, the next bar would be the Olympics. It’s in the back of all of their minds.”

It’s now at the front of all their minds after Emily, who turned 24 on the weekend, was named Wednesday to the Canadian team bound for London and the 2012 Olympics.

It was no easy task, either, as Batty faced stiff competition from Catharine Pendrel and Marie-Helene Premont, three of the world’s best vying for just two spots on the women’s team.

In the end, it was Pendrel and Batty getting the nod during a press conference held at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec.

Batty, a four-time U23 Canadian champion (2007-2010), has enjoyed immediate success on the World Cup scene, finishing eighth in the World Cup standings in her rookie season, last year. This season, she rose to the occasion from the first World Cup race, earning her career first podium performance on the UCI World Cup by taking the second place in South Africa.

“This is hopefully the beginning to an amazing path in sport,” said Batty, currently sitting in fifth place of the World Cup standings, in a press release. “Not only am I thrilled to represent Canada in my first Olympics, I am confident the Canadian mountain bike team will be doing something special in London 2012 this year.”

Pendrel, of Kamloops, B.C., was a lock to make the team from the get-go. She’s currently ranked No. 1 in the world and last weekend won her fourth straight national title in the elite division.

In choosing Batty over Premont, however, the selection committee went with a young up-and-comer who has fared better on the World Cup circuit over the past year, over a two-time Olympian who won a silver medal in the Athens 2004 Games.

Together, the three athletes have helped push Canada to No. 1 in the world in female mountain bike, but unfortunately only a maximum of two per country are allowed to take part in the Olympics.

Max Plaxton and Geoff Kabush, both of British Columbia, will make up Canada’s men’s team.

The mountain bike races will be held on the last two days of the Olympic Games, on Aug. 11 for the women and Aug. 12 for the men.

MontBlanc Fake

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